Not very long ago, India used to be that exotic place everybody in Hollywood spoke about but somehow preferred to stay away. Over the years, there has been a paradigm shift in its attitude towards the country. Much of the change can be attributed to the obvious commercial interest. Nonetheless, not all the Western stars visit India for the promotion of their films.
Leonardo DiCaprio, who is expected to be here early January to promote Martin Scorsese’s next, may beg to differ though. For what this healthy trend is worth of, HitList compiles a list of some of the prominent Hollywood personalities who landed in India during 2013...
Purpose of visit: Quite evidently a high-profile visit from the world of cinema, Spielberg came, saw and mesmerised almost everyone in the audience. Seeking collaborations in the future with his production house, he was greeted by who’s who of not only Bollywood but also other film industries from across the country. The celebrated filmmaker last visited India in 1983 for Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, which starred Amrish Puri in a negative role.
Purpose of visit: Since her conversion to Tibetan Buddhism, Sharon Stone has been making regular visits to India -- especially Dharamshala. The actress was in India last month on a short trip. Visiting four cities during her five-day stay, she hosted the inaugural gala of a global fundraiser for AIDS awareness. Sharon later visited Rajasthan and Varanasi before leaving for Delhi to catch an early morning flight back home to the US.
Richard Gere in Sikkim
Purpose of visit: Active practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism of the Gelugpa School, Richard Gere can be called a regular tourist. This time around, he visited many monasteries on a five-day tour in Sikkim in April. He later admitted that such visits help him a lot in keeping himself calm. He also delivered a speech on Buddhism during an event in the northeastern state. Before leaving the country, he also participated in a close friend's wedding in Gangtok.
Purpose of visit: The twice-Oscar winner landed in the country for the first time in November. It was a relatively short visit to Mumbai for philanthropy. The US-based actress, who is known for shying away from media as much as possible, maintained a low profile throughout. Along with Abhishek and Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan, Hilary raised admirable funds for an event. Soon after, she left for New York.
Purpose of visit: The latest name from Hollywood to join the growing list of those ‘seeking spirituality’ is Demi Moore. Post-breakup with Ashton Kutcher, the Hollywood star was spotted Mcleodganj in Himachal Pradesh on October 28 along with her spiritual guru Hargopal Kaur Khalsa. Demi attended a mind and life conference called Craving, Desire and Addiction, where Dalai Lama was the speaker.
Purpose of visit: Nearly a decade ago, Matt Damon had visited Goa for the shooting of a pivotal scene in Bourne Supremacy. This year, he wasn’t here for a shoot. It was more of a humanitarian cause: he must have read somewhere that India has more cellphones than toilets! The Hollywood hottie visited Tamil Nadu on a mission to help more than a million people have access to safe water and sanitation in the next three-and-half years. That’s something.
Purpose of visit: In 2000, this Oscar winner confessed that her visit to India as a UNICEF ambassador broke so many long-held myths about the country. 13 years later, she was in Goa for International Film Festival of India (IFFI). Along with the annual film festival, she enjoyed the work of India’s leading artists and photographers at a show. During her interaction with the media, the outspoken actress went down heavily on America’s foreign policies in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Purpose of visit: The former Bond girl and Malaysia’s greatest import to Hollywood was on her second visit to the country. She was the chief guest of the closing ceremony for the 44th edition of IFFI, where her film Pad Yatra: A Green Odyssey was also screened. Much to the local media’s amusement, she stated that she not only loves Bollywod but also wishes to be a part of an Indian movie soon.
Purpose of visit: The actor who plays the protagonist in the hugely popular TV series Mad Men was in the city during summer. He was here on business -- movie business to be precise. Shooting for Million Dollar Arm by director Craig Gillespie, this was his first visit to the country. The upcoming film happens to also feature Suraj Sharma (of the Life of Pi fame). Oh yes, Jon reportedly dined with Priyanka Chopra.
Robert De Niro
Purpose of visit: Visiting India after a long gap of 35 years, the legendary actor was in the country to speak at an annual conclave in New Delhi. During his visit to the capital, he rubbed shoulders with popular Indian names, including Amitabh Bachchan. De Niro later met Ranbir Kapoor and before flying back to the US, he made it a point to personally meet Anupam Kher at his acting school in Mumbai.